Ways to Work Out With Natural Hair

I’m addicted to exercise, and I wear my hair in a natural or protective style 100% of the time. One of the girls I work out with almost always has a fresh sew-in with long, flowing locks down her back. How she does sprints and deadlifts and burpees and pushups for the better part of an hour with all that hair is beyond me. It looks hot, in a 90 degrees, sweaty, get off of me type of way. But power to her. During one of our workouts together, we talked about hair. She made a comment along the lines of “Well, my hair doesn’t curl like yours,” (and I feel like there’s a whole other post about perceptions of hair texture worth discussing), and it reminded that one of the conundrums I’ve always heard from other naturals has been how to work out with natural hair. 

Lemme Preface This.

Okay, I admit that this is not a problem that I’ve personally had to deal with. At least, not to the extent that I’ve had to think long and hard about my life (meaning hair) decisions. The wash and go has always been my go-to style, and it works great during a sweat session. No rewashing, no twisting, no restyling. Granted, there’s some shrinkage because the sweat causes my roots to get tight. But I’m team EMBRACE THE SHRINKAGE. Not everybody has the time or the inclination for midweek restyling. And let’s be honest. All that manipulation isn’t good for your ends. Certainly not my ends, which are so fine they break when I look at them funny. So I protect them. I tuck them away until conditioners are friendlier. 

I’ve also done the wig thing. 

Not worked out in a wig. That just sounds like a recipe for embarrassment if not done right. But I’ve worn a wig to work, then slapped on a satin-lined cap to do the double duty of hiding the hot mess that is a hundred tiny twists of hair and protecting my edges while I sweated.

Right now, I’m doing neither. 

I’m rocking two chunky flat twists with the tails pinned up in the back. Yes, it’s basic, but it’s the easiest when it comes to working out. Here’s the thing: while I absolutely love my wash and go, this dry winter weather is so unfriendly to my strands. So unforgiving. So, protective styling has become a must as long as this dry winter persists.  Until Spring hits, it all braids all the time. 

I did think about going back into wigs. 

But at one point it was too hot in Los Angeles (86 degrees in FEBRUARY, y’all!), and now that it has finally cooled down, the braids are easier. There’s no finding wig caps and slap caps, no transferring wigs to safe spaces when I’m taking them off in traffic (remember, this is LA), no keeping track of hairpins, and all the other bits and pieces that goes with maintaining your…piece. 

I’ve been doing the braids for about 5 weeks now. 

I envy those naturals who can cornrow and flat twist hair into the most interesting an intricate of styles. It’s not a skill I have. The first time, I paid my stylist to flat twist my hair for me. But her “every two weeks” hair regimen doesn’t fit into my budget, so I decided to try my hand at this braiding thing. The first time I did it, it took me the better part of an hour. Keep in mind, it was jus two flat twist going back. The second time, it took me only 15 minutes, and that’s pretty much where I stand. Wash, deep condition, detangle, moisturize, add a little gel to keep the frizz at bay, flat twist, wrap it up at night. That’s the routine right now until Spring is in full swing. And it works for the gym. I can sweat without worrying about my roots or edges (because I’m not team laid edges anyway), and except for the two hairpins needed to pin up my tails, there are no accessories involved. Now, I will admit that sometimes my tails pop loose of the hairpins and start pointing in any old direction. Beware. Pin them back up and keep going. 

What method to you use to maintain your natural hair during workouts? What’s your go-to protective method?

I look forward to hearing from you.


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